Before going on, for full disclosure, a while back the two people who made this game had apparently asked me to take a look at it. Unfortunately, I only recently got the notification I had gotten a message. Sometimes WordPress has the funkiest glitches. On top of that, I had a lot going on outside of my online presence so it took me a while to finally get to this one.
PROS: A solid Asteroids clone with some twists.
CONS: Not the deepest experience
POWER-UPS: Be sure to get them often.
With that out of the way, I’m getting to this now. I contemplated calling this a mini-review at first because on the surface there isn’t much to talk about. Upon seeing it for the first time your likely reaction will be “Oh, an Asteroids clone. Okay.” and go on about your day. But after you play it for a while you’ll start to see that they did put some thought into differentiating it from the many games that have taken a shot at updating Asteroids.
Pangaroids is a game that adds a slight hint of Pong into the mix by having borders around the playfield. What does this do? Well, the Asteroids (which I think are supposed to be space hockey pucks) can bounce off of the borders at various angles. So when you aren’t initially crushed by one of them, they can still rebound into you. As in Asteroids, shooting them blows them into smaller pieces that you also have to avoid while shooting them.
This results in the screen getting cluttered up a lot faster than in Atari’s old vector game. To help you, there are power-ups that will randomly drop from the destroyed space pucks. You can cycle through them before picking them up by shooting at them. And while it never gets as varied as other shmups that do this like Twin Bee or Cotton, it does break up the formula a bit. There are missiles, shields that can protect you from a hit, and a few others. Some of them will affect enemy behaviors to a minimal degree.
The game also has a similar thruster mechanic to Asteroids. So you have to try to anticipate where momentum is going to take you in addition to where your targets are going to be. So the game does have a bit of strategy involved within its space. Visually, the game doesn’t really do much to stand out. Make no mistake, it doesn’t look bad at all. But it has a clean, sterile look within its border, and sprites give off that early 2000s Newgrounds vibe.
The game controls well enough, with a little bit of floatiness you’d expect to see in any game following Atari’s classic arcade game. You move the ship using the arrow keys, and you fire with the space bar. Honestly, it’s pretty good for what it is. It isn’t going to set the world on fire and won’t pull you away from a deeper game you might be playing through. But for a game you can fire up in short bursts, it’s a pretty good option.
I’d say if you own a laptop you should add it to your Steam library. It’s the kind of game you can play on a commute or while waiting in an office for an appointment. And if you’re an old-timer like me, you may want to drop some time going for a high score. And you don’t see solid freeware games like this these days very often. As publishers usually go the ad-driven or microtransaction fuelled route instead. A full-fledged freeware microgame that plays well is a rarity. And the whole thing was made by a figurative handful of people so all in all a solid effort.
Final Score: 8 out of 10